This post is by Rosabeth Moss Kanter from HBR.org
Power transfers can be fraught. But there is a path forward.
On his first day as CEO of the Carlsberg Group, a global brewery and beverage company, Cees ‘t Hart was given a key card by his assistant. The card locked out all the other floors for the elevator so that he could go directly to his corner office on the 20th floor. And with its picture windows, his office offered a stunning view of Copenhagen. These were the perks of his new position, ones that spoke to his power and importance within the company.
Cees spent the next two months acclimating to his new responsibilities. But during those two months, he noticed that he saw very few people throughout the day. Since the elevator didn’t stop at other floors and only a select group of executives worked on the 20th floor, he rarely interacted with other Carlsberg employees. Cees decided to switch from his
Last year I decided it was time to shake things up at our investment management company. After 12 years as president and then CEO, I thought it was time to shift some of my responsibilities to my partners.
Research suggests that organizations and their boards are poorly prepared for CEO transitions. The most common transgression is procrastination, in failing to charge the next generation of managers with more responsibility. Not only are CEOs reluctant to pass on key functions that they consider essential elements of their own identity, but their boards have difficulty pushing for these necessary changes. When the CEO does depart, companies find themselves lacking leaders who are experienced in critical aspects of the top post. This may be especially true in relatively small businesses, like mine.
I wasn’t planning on retiring for at least another five years, but I wanted to watch
At some point in your career, you likely encountered a manager you believed was unfair. You probably thought to yourself, “When I’m a manager, I’m never going to be like that!” Now that you’ve been promoted to a management position, you’re probably dedicating significant amounts of time and energy to making unbiased decisions, but no doubt finding that the right balance is elusive. Sadly, there is no objective measure of fairness. Instead, each time you attempt to level the playing field on one dimension, you throw it off balance on another. The best, if imperfect, approach is to understand the different forms of fairness and to be thoughtful about when and how you apply them.
You can start with the most standard measure of fairness, which focuses on the outcomes of your decisions. Did your decision-making process lead to a fair distribution (of inputs and outputs)
“Go find your passion,’’ Henry directed his children when they reached their late teens and early twenties. “Find your interests outside our family business and pursue them.’’ As inspiring as those words may have been, Henry, the patriarch of a successful automotive parts business, wasn’t simply freeing his children to follow their dreams. He was requiring it.
Having watched too many other family businesses bring kids into the company early on and “damage’’ them, in his words, Henry was afraid of doing the same thing with his children, somehow coddling them or making life too easy. He was a big believer that the best development possible is “getting your butt kicked” as you learned the ropes outside your family business. So he watched with pride as each of his children found their own career path — one as a lawyer, one an artist, and the other a successful
We love to read about the dynamics of success. We study it, celebrate it, and try to emulate how successful leaders rise to the top. I’m no different: I’ve spent my career helping executives succeed, either through coaching and development or assessments of their strengths and opportunity areas to identify the development work they need to do to take their careers to the next level. But even as I’m drawn to success stories, I have found that the greatest lessons come from examining failure.
For instance, my last research effort looked into how elite executives make a successful transition to the C-suite. As I worked through the interviews, I found that executives whose careers had been derailed shared many commonalities. Specifically, I found that C-suite executives are vulnerable to career failure when they are in the midst of one of three common transition scenarios.
1.The leap into
As soon as you step into a top position at a company that needs to significantly improve the way it operates, there’s pressure to get off to a quick start.
Yet the best way to succeed, paradoxically, is to slow things down.
Forces pushing in the other direction — toward hyperspeed — are powerful, of course. You must prove you are the right leader by getting the organization to deliver better results, and soon. That’s why you were brought in.
So, you set out for early wins in what seem like obvious areas to fix — on the cost side, perhaps the speed of processes within production, and on the revenue side, the size of the sales force.
But rushing toward early wins, even in areas that seem uncontroversial, can be unexpectedly hazardous. That’s because when a new leader takes hold, changes aren’t just about efficiency or revenue; they